[Note: As it was not initially mentioned, Sundays are miscellany days for TFIOS related content. This means an exploration of a certain theme, idea, character, or quote presented in the novel that was not touched upon by other posts throughout the week. This Sunday’s miscellany post is about Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac’s names. Posts will resume on Monday, Februry 27 for Chapter Two. In the meantime, feel free to submit and stay tuned!]
When asked about why he chose the name Hazel, John Green has said,
“Hazel is the space beteeen two colors which I like.”
However, this aside, Hazel’s name is also specific in that it can not be shortened into a nickname, like so many other names can. She calls herself at one point, “univalent Hazel.” She enjoys people who have names that can be shortened (like Augustus) because she can choose what to call them. Choosing how to see someone and how to feel about them is something Hazel comes to learn as the novel progresses.
Augustus is the name of the first emperor of the Roman Empire, and is a name that carries the grandeur of an illustrious history with it. We see Augustus alternate between being highly confident, coming off as manic pixie dream boy in his seemingly perfect flaws, and being a boy, a normal, desperate and frightened boy. Gus, his nickname (and the name that Hazel calls him when his vulnerable side shows), is smaller and innocent in contrast to the name Augustus. The more we see of Gus, the more we come to realize his flaws are not perfect, but flaws that cause him pain. We see him past is confidence and we see the boy underneath simply trying to understand his purpose in the universe. Furthermore, his surname Waters highlights the nourisher/destroyer theme of water in TFIOS.
The name Isaac seems to be based off the biblical Isaac, who goes blind in his old age. As the third party to what is described as a “star crossed lovers” tale, Isaac becomes not only a potential teller of Hazel and Augustus’s story (as many traditional story tellers are indeed blind), but another perspective on love and how it is the one true thing in a world where truth is so varied.